A reader asked:
I am 29 weeks pregnant and I have been having this uncomfortable pain under my left breast just after entering the second trimester. It usually starts when I stand for a very long time or when I sleep on my side. It only goes away when I sleep on my back.
Now I'm worried because I heard that pregnant women should not lie/sleep on their back from the second trimester and that's the only position I'm comfortable with. The pain is so uncomfortable and doesn't allow me to enjoy lying on the bed. Is there anything I should do or take to get rid of it?
Tina Otte answers:
This is a very common complaint of pregnancy and involves the ribs and muscles of your ribcage. In the third trimester of pregnancy (for some women a little earlier) you may experience sore or painful ribs on your left, right or both sides – which can range from mild discomfort to extremely sore. The pain and soreness is caused by pressure from the top of your growing uterus, as well as baby kicking or punching the area.
Sore ribs are usually on the side of the baby’s position and can be felt just below the breasts. Usually this pain is worse when sitting and leaning forward. Once your baby drops (usually between 36 and 38 weeks), things will improve.
Here are some suggestions to ease your discomfort until your baby move slower:
- Make yourself as comfortable as possible by wearing loose fitting clothes.
- Support yourself with cushions when lying down.
- Sit up straight and don’t hunch over – bad posture is a cause of this discomfort.
- Avoid sitting down for too long and get up and take regular stretch breaks or short walks.
- Use heat packs or cold packs and do exercises that help you stretch out and support your body.
- Try sitting in a cross legged position and place your hands on your ribcage. Inhale as deeply as you can and expand your ribcage, and then breathe out slowly. Do this at least 8 times during the day to relieve the heavinesst hat you feel.
- Also try the following stretch: Stand facing a wall, with your feet 40cm from the wall and cross your arms in front of your face. Lean your crossed arms on the wall sliding them up the wall above your head and stretching yourself up as far as possible. Hold the position for as long as comfortable. This lifts the diaphragm and ribcage up off the uterus and provides huge temporary relief.
Lying on your back is not as dangerous as it is made out to be as you move a lot during sleep. I suggest you place a flattish pillow under the right side of your back, so that you are slightly tipped to one side. This will alleviate pressure on the major blood vessels that run behind your uterus.
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